02 July 2007

1787) Mr. Oskanian's Speech At The Bsec Summit In Istanbul

. . Mr. Chairman, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for your hospitality.

Fifteen years ago, when BSEC was founded, it was a visionary effort at a time when the world stood at a historical crossroads, when almost all of our member states were themselves living their own historical turning point, heading a new or a re-organized state. Just as our organization was young, so were each of our states.

Fifteen years later, each of our countries and BSEC, too, have changed. I can speak for Armenia: Our economic growth is gratifying, the collapse of the time of independence is only a bad memory. Institutions are stronger, as evidenced by our recent elections, I am proud to say very positively assessed by the international community. People are more confident. That confidence comes not just from within, but is buttressed by the assessment of international indices. From economic freedoms to failed states to capital hospitality, we are significantly ahead of all our neighbors. That gives us a solid basis on which to continue to grow.

So, just as our countries can't, neither can our organization hide behind the label of inexperience any more. If, in these 15 years, we could have ascribed our occasional hesitation to certain of our own quarrels and interests and alliances, today we see that by allowing ourselves to be led by our differences, we limit this organization's capacity to make itself felt in world politics.

Mr. President,

Broadening interaction between BSEC and the EU is a measure of our maturity and one of our significant outputs. As the EU considers the benefits of a Black Sea Dimension for economic, social, environmental and energy cooperation, and as BSEC works to enhance its interaction with the EU, we around the Black Sea, have much to learn from those around the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Baltic and North seas. Our need for deeper relations is not limited to the structural, technical and institutional expertise in the EU space. Rather we stand to benefit from the European ability to create a bond between human beings that transcends older boundaries and makes out of these new institutional forms something that really is a community.

We also have much to learn from Europe in trying to find new solutions to old problems. BSEC could have, should have, aided in creating an environment conducive to resolving conflicts in our region. Resolutions are only possible through compromise, compromise requires reciprocal trust between peoples, and cooperation is the obvious and proven way to inculcate such trust. Rejecting cooperation is a symptom of a misplaced desire to find one-sided solutions; this is unrealistic. The era of one-sided solutions is over.

In our case, in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, we have worked hard to produce a negotiating document that is indeed based on compromise, and has sufficient positive elements to justify our efforts to move forward to resolve the remaining difficult differences. We are cognizant of the irreplaceable role of the negotiating process, as difficult as that is, to lasting resolutions. In fact, the process itself is a signal to our populations and other stakeholders that we understand compromise and the concessions that compromise requires. Therefore, at this stage, to speak in the language of attack and absolute solutions is neither realistic nor helpful.

Nor is it useful to mistake cause with consequence. The people of Nagorno Karabakh were victims who won the military battle, successfully defending themselves in Karabakh against a government that attacked people it considered its own citizens. Not all victors are aggressors. Sometimes the underdog wins because he is defending his family, his home, his land. The people of Karabakh defended themselves, against great odds, and won. Today, they want nothing from Azerbaijan, except a willingness to live and let live.

Mr. Chairman, in the run-up to the anniversary summits to come, the effectiveness of this organization will be measured not just by the extent and number of its activities, but by the boldness of our aims, the foresight of our goals, the value of our achievements, and the audacity of our intent.

Thank you.

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